Redwood City residents warned of foul smell during avian cholera outbreak containment 

An effort is underway at a pond in Redwood City to contain an outbreak of avian cholera that federal wildlife officials say has killed about 200 ducks and other birds in recent weeks.

The birds were collected and tested after they started dying in droves at the 8-acre, man-made pond, which is adjacent to the South Bayside System Authority’s wastewater plant at 1400 Radio Road.

The pond is being drained to allow the bottom soil to dry out — a process that started Friday and could take months to complete, SBSA General Manager Dan Child said.

“The process is going well so far,” Child said. “We’re starting to see the exposed bottom around the edges.”

The pond consists of treated water from the wastewater facility. As the water is drained back into the facility, acres of bird excrement are likely to be exposed, which Child said could send strong odors toward a nearby office park and residential neighborhood.

“To mitigate what we can, we have heavy equipment ordered and coming in to try and keep the area as fresh as possible — but it is going to smell,” he said.

No neighbors have complained so far, although that could change as the mud and excrement heat up in potentially record-high temperatures forecast for the Bay Area this week, Child said.

Wildlife officials believe the bird deaths could be connected to a previous outbreak of avian cholera in Hayward, but that has not been confirmed.

Avian cholera can be fatal to birds but does not pose a threat to humans, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Patrick Foy said the disease is common in the state.

“Avian cholera is a strain of bacteria that has affected birds for generations,” Foy said. “It’s something that we see every single year.”

Foy said avian cholera was detected in the East Bay along the Hayward Regional Shoreline both this winter and last.

Draining the pond is the only sure way to stop the outbreak in that area and prevent future bird deaths, Child said.

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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014

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